Lifestyle 26 | I’m Out

Cottage - Luxury Estate Agents Warwickshire

I’m definitely out. Outside in the garden that is. I keep my political views to myself.

Despite the wet start to this summer I love being outside, the moment the sun makes an appearance I’m in the garden, barbecue tongs or secateurs at the ready. Forget about the vagaries of the British weather, there is nothing better than a spot of alfresco entertaining or a day pottering in the herbaceous borders. Gardens are not just for summer though, a well designed outdoor space brings so much to home life throughout the year as well as increases the value of your property. Head to Waitrose Garden for everything you need to make your outdoor space and get going.

We all know bifold doors opening from a kitchen to an outdoor dining area are high on the wish list for many homebuyers but the discerning house hunter is looking for much, much more.

Here are my top outdoor must haves:

Chickens | Having chickens in the garden is your first step to self sufficiency. Eggs are a fabulous, nutritious food, birds are characterful and pretty animals to have wandering around the garden and if they are handled early on in their lives, poultry are great pets.

Walled gardens | The ultimate in outdoor privacy. In my mind, walled gardens are well-ordered, formal and private places that contain anything from ‘cutting flower’ beds to wall-grown figs, pear and plum trees, a small avenue of espalier apple trees and perhaps a small lawned area with a swing — a world away from the pressures of everyday life. Thompson & Morgan have a great selection of seeds for bringing any garden to life.

Kitchen garden | Alongside the walled garden comes the desire to grow our own food. I have seen an increase in buyers wanting walled kitchen gardens and vegetable patches. Buyers warm to gardens that feel loved and cared for and the idea of living the good life with getting food from patch to plate within seconds is idyllic. I was taught how to grow fruit and vegetables by my uncle and over the years I have grown in confidence from a few lines of carrots and leeks to a beautiful pottager full of raspberries, strawberries and rhubarb, surrounded by artichokes, kale and beans. The kitchen garden at Chez Clarke also has a cut flower bed and we see it as a beautiful part of the garden rather than an old allotment. We use Thompson & Morgan for veg and flower seeds.

A room outdoors | You must have a seating area to relax in to enjoy looking at the beautiful garden you have created. Sipping on a G&T in our outdoor sitting room is the perfect way to enjoy the fruits of our gardening labour. Cox & Cox is my current favourite for garden furniture.

Our love of entertaining in the garden shows no sign of abating, with eBay reporting a 57 per cent year-on-year increase in the sale of loungers and recliners in the UK, and a 46 per cent rise in the sale of patio heaters. Sales of barbecues have increased by 33 per cent.

Fire | An outdoor fireplace with seating around is a wonderful way of extending summer evenings. By installing a fire pit you can cook, eat and then stay outside rather than head inside for after dinner drinks. Waitrose Garden has a a great selection of fire pits and braziers.

Garden office | The trend for garden offices and studios is growing as a way of adding living space and kicking Mr Clarke out of the house every day to work rather than watch him tapping away at his computer in his pyjamas. We got our garden Office from Waltons who do a great selection and were lovely to deal with. With more people working one or two days a week from home, garden offices have become popular. I’ve also seen them set up as gyms, cinema rooms and chill-out areas.

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